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Lap 79: Sponsored by Diadora

The Monmouth Mile made its return with a bang after a 2-year hiatus with the help and support of Diadora. A beautiful evening in Middletown NJ saw kids races, community miles, and High School 3200s build towards a much-anticipated showdown. When the dust settled there was a new champion in Paul Ryan setting a New Jersey Outdoor Soil Record of 3:52.41. 2nd was Vincent Ciattei at 3:54.07 and 3rd was defending champion, Eric Holt, at 3:54.09.

Big thank you to Diadora for giving back to the sport by creating more opportunities for athletes to run fast and showcase their abilities. Discover your pair at!

Captain America does it again🇺🇸

We all laughed at Grant Fisher earlier this winter when his silly warm-up was revealed to the public, but after his fourth American record this year, activation band sales have skyrocketed. This past winter, we watched Fisher run the 5000m indoor record (12:53.73) and the doubters said, “it’s only because of the BU track!” Following his 10000m (26:33.84) record, the anti-pace-light brigade was out in full force. But after lowering the outdoor 3000m (7:28.48) and now 5000m records, too (the latter in 12:46.96 to place second at the Brussels Diamond League), it is time to believe that one of the best high school performers of all time is now one of the best American distance runners ever.

Reading non-Americans’ reactions to Fisher’s competitiveness against the likes of Jacob Krop had me scratching my head. Did the random French track fans I follow on Twitter forget about the time he won back-to-back Footlocker National titles running 40 miles per week on a soccer field? Absurde!

GRANTed, just because Fisher has now run faster than any other American, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is the greatest to ever do it, yet. In fairness, Grant has only been on this level for about 13 months, since finishing 5th at the Olympics. But to truly eclipse the likes of the previous record holders, Bernard Lagat or Galen Rupp, then it will take some hardware and some longevity. Stay tuned…

The Brussels Diamond League 💎

As much as track fans love to complain about TV and media coverage, credit needs to be given to how much fun a two-hour Diamond League meet is. There are some hurdles to watching — having free time on weekday afternoons, knowing when meets are happening, and having Peacock, chiefly — but if you put any casual fan in front of a screen for that window, they’d be entertained.

This meeting was particularly interesting. Sure, as a sport we love to revel in our stars’ dominance, but when it comes to intrigue, give me a good old fashioned upset any day of the week! I mean, c’mon. Would any of you have taken an Uncut Gems-style parlay bet in which both Mondo Duplantis and Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pryce lose?

The final summer Friday of the season meant Brussels received my unconditional attention and what a brilliant showcase it was. I was under the impression that Jake Wightman would still be lost at sea following his booze cruise river float following the European Championships, but the Scot seemed to have washed ashore with enough moxie to make it around the track twice.

The world champion at 1500m faced off against the world champion at 800m, and strength prevailed as Wightman ran a personal best of 1:43.65 to beat all the specialists. This year, the Scot has notched PBs from 800m to 3000m with a range of times going 1:43.65/2:13.88/3:29.23/3:50.30/7:37.81. This prompted a comment from David Ribich on our Instagram, that it has to be the fastest 7,909m combined ever. So I did some math — and Jake has some work to do. But he’s in elite company:

  1. Noah Ngney (18:43.43)—The biggest “what if” in T&F history

  1. Hicham El Gerrouj (18:36.25)— I feel like he could have run faster than 1:47.18….

  1. Nourredine Morceli (18:35.39)— Most underrated distance runner of all time by people under the age of 40?

It was supposed to be a nice retirement tour for Kara Winger, soaking in the sites one last time and giving the crowds a pleasant farewell — then the four-time Olympian in the javelin started launching missiles! Her surprise second-place finish at the World Championships was the perfect adieu to the Hayward faithful, as it was Winger’s first-ever global championship medal, but that performance has been quite the springboard.

It’s still the end of the runway for Winger, but with a quantity of throws left in her career that can be counted on her fingers, Winger did something she hadn’t done since 2010 — she broke her own American record. And it wasn’t by a couple of inches, either. Her previous best was 66.67m, but on the final throw in Brussels, Kara took the win and set the World Lead with a toss of 68.11m.

For a number of reasons, the United States isn’t historically amazing at the javelin. My elementary understanding of why is that the way we are taught to throw baseballs and footballs with our elbows as a pivot point directly opposes the optimal physics of a straighter arm. We used to be better — for example, in 1932 Babe Didrikson won Olympic Gold. And the only American man to win — and I swear it’s not the same person — was Cy Young, back in 1952.

In the stupid, ongoing argument between track and field athletes about what event is the hardest, most land on something like the 400m hurdles or the 800 (everyone agrees the 1500 is the easiest). But often glossed over is the javelin. It’s the most violent on the body — it is the equivalent of crashing a car into a brick wall then channeling that momentum through your arm ligaments to propel the spear an extra inch further. That Kara Winger is still doing it, let alone this well, is deserving of every ounce of praise American track fandom can muster!

And for those of us who tuned in with a couple Irish gals, the race of the meet was without a doubt the women’s 1500. Ciara Mageean surprised the field and herself, going 3:56.63 — her first time under the four-minute mark — to break Sonia O’Sullivan’s longstanding national mark. If I know Irish villages as well as I think I do, there will be a Ciara statue in Portaferry by St. Stephen’s Day.

The Zurich Diamond League Final takes place on Wednesday at 10:55AM ET and Thursday at 1PM ET — you can watch on Peacock!

USATF 20k Championships 🏆

There is generally no worse place on Earth than in a car along the stretch of I-95 running through southern Connecticut. But we all make sacrifices from time to time. Taking advantage of quiet Labor Day morning traffic, I made the 70-minute drive to New Haven to witness the showdown between two of America’s greatest road racers. Bestowing that title to just one would be nearly impossible, but two names in contention are Keira D’Amato and Emily Sisson.

Since Keira really burst onto the scene in 2020, she hasn’t lined up against Emily for a good battle. (Neither party was at their best at the Olympic Trials Marathon.) Part of it is timing and being healthy at the same time, and the other more obvious reason is that there are lots of road races and it’s easy to not overlap.

But with D’Amato gearing up for the Berlin Marathon and Sisson preparing for Chicago two weeks later, the USATF 20K Championships proved to be the perfect tune-up race for the pair. I’ve lamented the superfluous number of national championship road races in the past, and the 20K distance is one of the more confusing ones, but a head-to-head match-up like this makes you want to retroactively delete such grievances.

The pair traded blows immediately, coming through 6 miles in 31:05 with constant lead changes. I watched the race with Emily’s husband-slash-pacer, Shane, and even he was stunned at the early established tempo. Ultimately, over the final mile or so, D’Amato’s race-sharp legs had the extra gear to close on the downhills and she won the race in 1:04:29 to 1:04:35. Both women got under the previous course record despite brutally humid conditions.

Looking forward, the speculation should be about what the American Record might be five weeks from now. Keira has announced her intentions of lowering her 2:19:12 mark from Houston last year, and recent performances indicate that may be on the table. But Sisson has seemingly bounced back after a long bout with Covid and was only six seconds back — toss in some good weather in Chicago and who knows what happens?

On the men’s side, basically from the jump there was a massive pack following the signature front-running style of Conner Mantz. As Korir, Chelanga, Kipchirchir, and Simbassa waited in the wings, a misjudgment of where the actual finish line ultimately broke things open, rather than a counter-move. In the final half mile, Mantz took off, thinking he had far less distance to cover left. Fortunately for him, he was able to hold on and make it through the tape in 59:08 before laughing at his poor depth perception.

Mantz is making his debut in Chicago and in my post-race interview with him he was open about having a goal of sub-2:08. That would be the fastest American debut of all-time. But that would be a fitting role for a two-time NCAA XC Champion who now boasts national titles at both 20k and half marathon distances.

Kudos to Keira and Conner. And I’m not saying that for effect — I’m speaking directly to both champs, here! Being a regular reader of The Lap Count may not make you faster, but if you’re attempting to take home a national title, it’s worth noting subscribers went 2-for-2 in New Haven.

Catching up with Elly Henes

There are always going to be difficult-to-live-up-to expectations for NCAA champions following their collegiate career, and that was no different for former NC State standout, Elly Henes. But in her first year as a professional for adidas, living in Flagstaff and training under coach Mike Smith, she has delivered. On Sunday at the ISATF Berlin meeting Henes ran an 11-second personal best in the 5000m, going 14:52.87 to notch the World Standard. I caught up with her to hear more about the race and what was an extremely successful rookie season.

Please tell me everything about the race in Berlin. It’s very impressive for a first-year professional to still be running well in September, but to be setting massive 5000m personal bests at this point in the season is incredible. What are your thoughts on the performance?

I've never gone this late into a season. In college you’re done by the end of June, but there are so many more races throughout the season. This year was nice because it’s longer, but not as much racing so it felt like a similar vibe.

During COVID there was a time period when I was training to race from March, maybe until December because things kept popping up randomly. You just had to be ready and that experience probably helped me.

Going into the race, Natosha [Rogers] and I had planned to find each other and switch off on the pace because the rabbit was initially set to go really fast. My best time going in was 15:03, but I felt my fitness level was better than that. I didn’t have the opportunity at USAs to run fast and then I lost my shoe in my last one at Sound and that sort of preoccupied my mind.

I totally forgot about that! So I guess you knew that this was in there?

Yes and no. I believed that it was possible, but putting it together is a whole other thing. Then actually doing it — it felt so reaffirming. This whole season has been about managing expectations. When I sat down with coach Smith at the start of the year he asked me about career goals and of course it starts with making teams, but I had said I’d hope to be down to 14:50 in a few years. Then doing it this year, it’s just like, ‘back to the drawing board!’

During the race, I was engaged the whole time, but honestly, I kind of got into my own world and just zoned into being out there. It felt like I was alone on the track, just me and unfinished business in the five.

Finding that zone is so special and rare.

Losing the shoe was one thing, but the way the race played out at USAs — I think mentally I wasn't in the right place when that shift happened. I didn't really put it together on that day. So I feel like that last mile when I was just alone with myself, it was just putting up whatever I had left.

Talking about managing expectations and looking at your 2022, you ran personal bests at every distance you competed in. In terms of a first professional season, you can’t ask for much more. How would you rate it, not just in terms of performances, but your whole life and the changes that come after college?

It's funny to go from being the fifth year in college where you're the oldest and the one with the experience. You've been around the block and seen how it all plays out and then suddenly you’re the freshmen again. My favorite thing is at a meet and the fact that I am only 23 comes up — I’m the baby of the group.

When we sat down and I was talking about those goals, I kind of realized that up until this year I wasn't really a student of the sport. It was something that I liked doing because it was fun and I had my team. Fortunately, we have a very good dynamic going on in Flagstaff and I still have what I consider teammates and friends, but it's different from a college team.

It's a whole new version of figuring out what drives you and why you get up every day to do this sport — there’s a learning curve. It’s about owning it now because even in college, having my mom there all the time, it was a constant reminder of the family dynamic and the way that I kind of came into the sport. I still talk to her every day on the phone, though.

Is she still giving your advice or is it back to just being Mom?

We're figuring out that dynamic again because after five years, it is an interesting switch to just go back to like, okay, just Mom. Especially when she knows so much about the sport and how I function. It has definitely gone back to much more just like mom-daughter stuff, but she understands and gets it since she's been there.

There’s always good advice there if I ever need it, but moving across the country feels like a lot of change which comes with its own life lessons. I'm totally in control of my career now and that means my successes and failures are mine to own.

Is it tough to transition coming from an environment like what you had at NC State, where your motivation is largely stemming from the team? It seems like you still have a great support system behind you.

It happened organically — I haven't thought about it much. I never feel like I'm just running for myself because with all those connections and support, I am never actually alone. But these performances are on me and a reflection of me as an athlete. I’m managing how to not get too low when things don’t go my way or too high when things go well. I’m searching for that consistency in the middle of not letting it define you.

That's one of my favorite things about coach Smith in general. He wants to and believes in making sure that you're well-rounded and working on yourself as a person because that stuff plays into racing and training.

Sounds like your old coach!

(This interview was condensed and edited for your reading pleasure.)

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New York City Update - Vol. 2

You signed up for this newsletter to keep in touch with what’s happening in the sport and now you’re staring down a picture of my chest hair — it took 79 weeks, but this was all part of the plan! Well, last week when I shared that I’d be running the New York City Marathon, I did not expect such a strong reaction from The Lap Count community. The response was motivating, partially because apparently a lot of you think I am capable of running way faster than I’d have predicted, but also some expectations were rather…insulting?

This is why I have decided to do something even Eliud Kipchoge never had the guts to do — I am going to try and win the New York City Marathon I am going to run the New York City Marathon in a respectable time!

Jokes aside, let me provide some context via a bit of personal history.

I have never raced the marathon before, but I have covered the distance twice. The first time was with a bunch of friends in November 2020 for the virtual running of New York. We did a version of the course that overlapped with the real thing by a good amount and the group ran 3 hours 18 minutes. It was by far the longest amount of time that I had ever spent moving on my feet and ended up with a couple of bloody toes, but for the most part, it was chill.

Then last October, I helped pace a couple of friends for their 20-mile long run as they were getting ready for a fall marathon. Upon getting back to the car I thought — I have 10k more in me! And then ran a bunch of 6-flats to finish it off in 2:58, only to have the next few days of my life ruined.

Neither of those efforts should give too much indication as to how the actual thing will go, but during the course of my career, I routinely ran 90+ miles a week in singles. I’d have considered myself a strong miler despite my couple failed attempts at the 5000m and multiple training partners still suggesting to this day that I’d have been way better had I leaned into my natural speed and focused on the 800 more.

I digress.

The closest I’ve come to true marathon training came during the onset of the pandemic. My response to the cancellation of all events in 2020 was to run a lot and honestly, it worked moderately well as a coping mechanism. While living in a bubble sucked for all of us, it still felt like I had some purpose.

I checked off the first-ever 100-mile training week of my life and I closed it out by running 20 miles at 5:53 pace. I did stuff like that for a few months, highlighted by a 10-mile tempo at 4:58 pace, but then got burnt out on running being my whole life. That’s when I fixed up my resume and stopped using contraception. Maybe, had I been less intense trying to maintain some level of normalcy and control in my life, then I’d have continued running like that. But no regrets! Things have worked out quite well since.

For the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed a steady diet of 30 to 50 mile weeks with a regular cadence of doing an easy workout once every other week, just to feel something. It’s long been my plan to return to a less serious level of racing (yes, the same plan that has me sending 1,000-word personal essays to your inbox now weekly).

The theme in the first month of this build-up has been pleasant surprise over how quickly my fitness is returning. Although I could only muster 66 miles this week, my Wednesday workout (3 x 3 miles w/ 3’ @ 5:13 pace) felt super in-control. It was a sizable jump from what I had done the week before and gave me an injection of hope about the value of muscle memory.

Fast forward to Sunday, I ran 19 miles, averaging 6:11 pace, with the final 7 miles under a 5:45 clip. I’ve never had to take in fuel before and probably need to start getting serious about it immediately. That’s why I am excited to share that UCAN, one of the earliest sponsors of this newsletter, reached out and asked if they could help.

This isn’t quite uncharted territory for me yet, but the waters are getting a little less familiar. Momentum will play a big role in the next two months — the enjoyment of progress could snowball into me training harder and believing in myself more. I’m still deriving a lot of confidence from the fact that it’s much easier to get in shape when you’ve been there before, and so much of my potential in November will be dictated not just by my training today, but by what I had done in the past.

Also, to those who think chaffing is exclusive to thighs that can squat over one hundred pounds, know that I got rubbed raw this week — to the point of a bloody and tear-filled shower. While I receive the occasional free pair of shoes, I am still wearing running shorts that I got five years ago and they’re ready to be incinerated. I’m checking the mail every day waiting for that Bandit Running package to arrive on my doorstep — the debut performance racing collection drops on September 8th.

Rapid Fire Highlights 🔥

  • The 2023 World Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, which were originally supposed to take place in 2020, have been postponed again until 2025. Based on reactions, this was not a surprise to anyone. And it’s too soon to find a replacement so the next World Indoors will be in Glasgow in 2024.

  • Also in Brussels, Sabastian Kimaru attempted to break the One-Hour WR, but came up 80 meters short of Mo Farah’s record of 21,250m. While this record is held in high esteem in the world of cycling, it’s pretty secondary on the track. It essentially removes everything to like about actual racing and isolates the worst elements. Still impressive though!

  • At The Big Half Marathon in London, Mo Farah had his most promising race in two years, ahead of the London Marathon winning in 1:01:49. Eilish McColgan won the women’s race in 1:07:35, though she has decided to delay her marathon debut until 2023 as she has suffered from rebound hypoglycemia while fueling in training. (Great, another thing that can go wrong in a marathon for me to be worried about!)

  • Grace Nwokocha, a member of Nigeria’s Commonwealth Championship 4x100, has been provisionally suspended by the AIU for banned substances (Ostarine & Ligandrol). As a freshman at North Carolina A&T this past year, she was an All-American in both the 100 and 200. Not great!

  • At the Birrell 10k in Prague, an unheralded Hicham Amghar from Morocco beat a LOADED field including Rhonex Kipruto and Tadese Worku in 27:24. The world cross country champion, Irine Chepet Cheptai of Kenya, won the women’s race in 30:16.

  • World Athletics published their 2021 annual report and from my fiscally ignorant understanding it would appear the state of the sport isn’t in complete financial ruin, which is #goodforthesport.

  • In Padova, Italy — one of the cooler Italian cities many tourists forget to visit — Yared Nuguse ran the fastest American 1500m (3:33.26) of the year to win over Cole Hocker (3:35.18). Allie Wilson ran 1:58.37 to win the 800m because OF COURSE she did! If you average all 12 of her races this year, including prelims — Wilson’s 800m average is 1:59.5!

  • At the ISATF Berlin meeting, which is probably the coolest non-Diamond League event in Europe, the stars all tuned up for Zurich with some wins: Noah Lyles (9.95), Grant Holloway (13.05), Karsten Warholm (47.24), Tobi Amusan (12.45).

  • Linden Hall won the KÖ Meile (that’s mile in German) in Dusseldorf in 4:26 dipping under the arms of an early celebration. Australia’s Sam Blake beat Adel Mechaal in 4:05.

  • The New Balance 5th Avenue Mile fields (men & women) are LOADED! On Friday, if you’d like to join the CITIUS MAG team at the NYRR Runcenter ft. The New Balance Run Hub, email [email protected] to RSVP. There will be food/drink/pro athletes/free swag. On Saturday, we are meeting in Columbus Circle at 9AM to do a shakeout in Central Park plus a course preview with a bunch of professional athletes competing the next day. Then the race takes place on Sunday from 12-1pm (live on NBC).

Thank you so much to Diadora for sponsoring this week’s newsletter! Once again, you have voluntarily read over 4200 words so you must not hate this thing — please share so we can reach new audiences!